It can be hard to stay organized as an artist.
Until you have a team, or you can divvy up tasks among band members, you're basically doing everything yourself, from writing the songs to keeping your financial records up-to-date.
Over time, I have learned the value of picking the right tool and sticking to it. There will always be new tools, but you shouldn't try to fix what isn't broke.
I like Google Docs (which is available through Google Drive), because it makes important documents easy to share and collaborate on. It saves you from wasting time on needless email communication, and it enables everyone to be on the same page.
In addition, you can save everything you create in Google Drive to your hard drive in whatever common format (docx, pdf, txt, xlsx, etc.), that suits you best. It makes backing up your important data an easy task.
Let's take a quick look at the toolset that Google Docs offers you, as well as how you as a musician or music industry professional can use it to your benefit.
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An Overview Of The Tools Available In Google Docs
If your goal is to make Google Docs work for you, you need to be aware of the different tools that you have access to. Here is an overview:
- Docs: for basic word processing. If you're writing an essay, it may not be your go-to tool, but it's great for sharing checklists, blog post drafts, marketing plans, and so on.
- Sheets: for creating spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are ideal for blogging (or editorial) calendars, financial records, keeping track of contacts, and so on.
- Slides: a tool for creating PowerPoint presentations or slide decks.
- Forms: for surveying your audience or collecting contact information.
- Other: you can use Drawings for creating custom images, and My Maps for saving locations, charting routes, measuring distances, and so on.
How To Use Google Drive And Docs For Musicians
With that out of the way, let's take a look at several areas where Google Docs can help you to stay organized in your music career.
Use Docs To Checklists
I'm an advocate for having checklists for any repetitive tasks that you have to carry out regularly, and Docs is the perfect tool for this purpose.
If you often perform live, then you may want to create:
- A live performance checklist: a list of things you need to do from the stage, like “mention our website at least twice from stage” or “let our fans know about our special merch offers”.
- A performance marketing checklist: this would be the checklist you refer to when you are marketing your show. It might include items like “create a Facebook event”, “share the event on Twitter”, and so on.
- A gear checklist: if you'd like to make sure that load-in, setup, teardown and load-out are as organized as possible, make a checklist of the gear that belongs to you, and the steps you need to take to set up and teardown in the most efficient manner possible.
If you're big into online marketing, you might think about creating a social media checklist too.
I think you're starting to get the idea. Though I wouldn't advise making your checklists all at once (it can be boring, tedious work), the benefit of being systematized is greater productivity and efficiency.
Using Sheets To Keep Track Of Your Music Related Finances
Some people may choose not to store their financial information online, and because it can be sensitive in nature, I'm not necessarily suggesting that you do.
However, if you choose to use Google Docs to keep the financial side of your music career organized, Sheets is definitely a tool fit for the task. And, like I mentioned earlier, you can easily back up the information you enter into Sheets to your hard drive and delete the online file later if you want to.
The ability to share and collaborate on the document is the major advantage here. When everyone on your team is clear on the numbers, it leaves little room for misinterpretation.
It curtails cases of heated debates that might involve money; recording an album, investing in new merch, going to a conference, and things of that nature. Believe me; I've been there.
As long as someone has their head on straight, your band should be able to stay unified in the next steps you need to take to advance your career.
Use Forms To Discover What Your Audience Want
Forms is a fantastic solution for surveying your audience and tracking their responses (which get saved to a separate Sheets by default).
If you want to ask for contact information while you are surveying, that's up to you. You could also make these optional fields so that those who might be uncomfortable with sharing their personal information can still fill out the rest of the survey.
There are a variety of different reasons to survey your audience. One might be to ask what kind of release they would like to see in the future (especially if you're debating between a few different project ideas).
Another might be to ask for participation in your next release. You could crowd-source lyrical ideas, chord progressions, melodies, and so on.
I like to use surveys to get a better handle on who my audience is. This allows me to create more targeted content that attracts more of the same kind of people.
Other Uses For Google Docs
There are plenty of other ways to use Google Docs, some of which I've already mentioned or hinted at.
Here are some additional ideas for you:
- Use Docs to track your journey and create a progression timeline for your career.
- Use Sheets to take note of any and all websites or journalists that mentioned you (this can help you to build a solid list of people to reach out to when you have something new to promote).
- Use Slides to create a slide deck that you can use to engage at your next performance. Alternatively, use it to project your band logo and web address at the back of the stage.
- Use Forms to facilitate giveaways and contests.
- Use Drawings to create your stage plot.
- Use My Maps to chart and figure out your touring logistics.
Thanks to the tools that are now available, staying organized has never been easier.
If you are spread out among a variety of different apps, it may be time to consolidate and streamline your operation.
There are definitely best fits for different purposes, and you may want to use multiple solutions. But the more you add to the mix, the more complicated things tend to get. The key is to keep things simple, and to have a straightforward process that anybody can follow.
So do you use Google Docs? And if so how? Let us know in the comments.